Children feel better, but obesity and low birth weight rates worsen

April 28, 2008

The overall well-being of American children from 1994 to 2006 is improving, despite the fact that rates of obesity and low birth weight are rising, according to a report released by the Foundation for Child Development on April 25.

The overall well-being of American children is improving, despite the fact that rates of obesity and low birth weight are rising, according to a report released by the Foundation for Child Development on April 25.

The report, titled "Trends in Infancy/Early Childhood and Middle Childhood Well-Being, 1994-2006," looked at indicators specific to children from birth to age 5, and ages 6 to 11, from 1994 to 2006. These indicators ranged from rates of prenatal care, to whether parents had dinner with their children on a daily basis, to whether children recognized all letters by age 5.

Results showed improved well-being among all age groups. However, the study found that the prevalence of obesity among children ages 6 to 11 has nearly quadrupled since the 1960s, and it has tripled for children ages 2 to 5. The increase in the number of babies born with low birth weight has been attributed to delayed childbearing among women and the use of fertility drugs for multiple births, the report stated.

Still, other health areas have improved: infant and child mortality rates have declined, as have blood-lead poisoning rates and rates of mothers who smoke during pregnancy. In addition, there was an increase in the number of vaccinations during the study period.